Mastercard and Pemo link up to drive cashless economy for SMEs

Mastercard is teaming up with fintech company Pemo to help create a cashless economy for the UAE’s SMEs by providing them with access to spend management software.

Combining digital and contactless payment technology, Pemo’s physical and virtual corporate cards allow businesses to digitize and automate the spend management process, including one-click invoice payments and real-time cash flow.

The initiative will also connect SME cardholders to over 150 merchant discounts through the Easy Saving Specials (ESS) platform. ESS is an SME-exclusive global redemption-based scheme with time-limited merchant offers redeemed at the checkout. These include discounts and offers on valuable services such as Google Workspace, DocuSign, Google Ads, Meta Ads and Notion, as well as flexible workspace.

Cardholders will also be able to make use of travel and entertainment benefits, including access to airport lounges across the Middle East, airport concierge and discounts on taxi and car rental services. In addition, people who activate the cards before the end of the year will receive 1% cashback on corporate advertising for three months.

“At Mastercard, we are dedicated to connecting businesses big and small with better ways to make payments and manage expenses,” said Gina Petersen-Skyrme, the company’s Vice President and Country Business Development Lead, UAE & Oman. “Our payment solutions empower businesses with enhanced efficiency, transparency, and control. We are delighted to partner with Pemo as we continue to work towards our commitment of bringing 50 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) worldwide into the digital economy by 2025.”

SMEs represent 94% of all companies operating in the UAE, accounting for 40% of the GDP in Dubai alone. Corporate spending with SMEs is typically done using personal cards or petty cash, which is why the reconciliation process can take a significant amount of time, is subject to errors and provides insufficient spend control. Furthermore, SMEs often miss out on some of the perks that larger corporates typically enjoy.

Pemo Co-Founder Valerie Konde added: “We are specifically geared and catered towards SMEs, and we are well aware of their pain points. For all too long, SMEs have faced challenges when it comes to keeping a tight rein on their finances and expense management processes. Lack of visibility and cumbersome manual processes literally slow the whole operation and business down. Now, companies can operate even more efficiently using innovative technology and rewarding solutions that empower their businesses to grow.”

More than 1,000 businesses now using the Pemo platform. Since its launch in April 2022, the company has secured $12 million in seed funding, with the investment being used for product development and expansion across MENA.


Dubai the regional number one in Global Cities Index

Dubai continues to hold the number-one ranking in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to Kearney’s latest Global Cities Index (GCI). The emirate ranks 23rd globally in the index, claiming a spot in the top 25 for the third year running.

The report highlights the significant strides made by emerging city hubs worldwide, especially in the Middle East.

It said: “These cities are witnessing remarkable improvements in their global city performances due to evolving globalisation and a new distributed geography of opportunity is emerging.

“Abu Dhabi, for instance, climbed 10 spots on the global rankings as it strengthened its position as a leading international hub.”

The GCI measures the capacity of a city to attract, maintain and produce capital, individuals and ideas. The evaluation is based on five factors – human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, political engagement and business activity.

Cities in the Middle East and Africa are consistently improving their scores – Gulf nation capitals, notably Riyadh, Muscat and Doha, have improved their overall rankings by nine, eight and seven places respectively.